A recent study has found that people with congestive heart failure have different microbes on their tongues than people without the condition. This could lead to new ways of testing for heart conditions.

A 2022 study has found a link between the microbes on your tongue and the health of your heart.

This isn’t the first time that tongue microbes have been linked to one’s health: An earlier study found that tongue microbes are different when a person has pancreatic cancer.

More research into tongue microbes and how they can help identify heart conditions is still needed. However, it’s possible that this research could lead to the use of tongue microbes as an easy and noninvasive testing method for heart health.

There’s been a lot of research into the connection between oral health and your heart. It’s known that severe gum disease can harm your heart. A recent study looked at the connection between the tongue and the heart.

The study used the principles of a technique called tongue diagnosis that’s used in traditional Chinese medicine. The study compared the tongues of people with congestive heart failure (CHF) to the tongues of people without the condition.

Researchers found that participants with CHF had different microbes on their tongue coating than people who did not. Additionally, people with CHF had tongues that were redder than pink in color and that had a coating that was more yellow than white.

These findings are similar to those of another study that found that people with pancreatic cancer have different tongue microbes than people without the cancer.

More research is needed about the connection between the tongue and the risk of heart disease. Current findings are considered to be experimental data. However, if further studies recreate these results, testing cells from the surface of your tongue could become a quick and noninvasive way to monitor your heart health in the future.

Several tests can be used to diagnose heart conditions. The exact tests your doctor orders will depend on factors such as your symptoms and the condition that your doctor thinks might be causing them.

Tests you might have to diagnose a heart condition include:

  • Blood pressure reading: A blood pressure reading records the pressure of your heart vessels when your heart muscle contracts and forces blood out and when it fills with blood again. You might have your blood pressure monitored over a period of a few days with at-home monitoring.
  • Blood tests: You might have your blood drawn to get important information such as your cholesterol level, triglyceride level, red blood cell count, and glucose level that can help doctors make a diagnosis.
  • Echocardiogram: An echocardiogram uses sound waves to create images of your heart. It helps doctors see how well your heart is contracting and relaxing and how well your heart valves are working.
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG): An ECG is a test that can measure and record the electrical activity of your heart. It can help find any abnormalities with your heart rhythm or rate. This test can be done in a lab or through a small device you can wear to record your heart rate throughout the day.
  • Stress test: A stress test monitors what happens to your heart rate when you’re active. During the test, you’ll be hooked up to an ECG machine. You’ll then be asked to walk on a treadmill or do a similar activity, and the ECG will record your heart’s reaction.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): An MRI is an imaging test that can create images of your heart to help doctors check your blood vessels.
  • Chest X-ray: A chest X-ray creates images of your heart that can help doctors make a diagnosis.
  • Cardiac catheterization: A cardiac catheterization is an imaging test that can give detailed information about how well your coronary arteries are working. During the tests, a catheter is inserted into an artery and carefully fed to your coronary arteries. A specialized dye is injected into the catheter, and X-ray images are taken.
  • Thallium scan: A thallium scan is a test that’s done by injecting a specialized radioactive substance called thallium into a vein in your arm. A small camera then measures the amount of thallium as it’s carried through your bloodstream and into your heart. The areas with blockages or poor blood flow will appear as dark areas on the scan.

A heart attack is always a medical emergency. If you have any of these symptoms, it’s important to call 911 or local emergency services. Do not attempt to drive yourself to an emergency room.

The four most common symptoms of impending heart attack are:

  • Chest pain and discomfort: This pain can feel like pressure, fullness, or squeezing in your chest.
  • Shortness of breath: The shortness of breath might happen before chest pain or at the same time as chest pain.
  • Pain in your upper body: Heart attack pain is often in the jaw, back, neck, and in one or both of your arms and shoulders.
  • Lightheadedness: You might feel weak, lightheaded, dizzy, or faint.

It’s possible to experience additional symptoms when a heart attack occurs. These include breaking into a cold sweat, fatigue, heart palpitations, nausea, and vomiting.

Read more about what to do if you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of a heart attack.

A recent study found that people with congestive heart failure have different microbes on their tongue’s surfaces than people without the condition. Although more research is needed, this connection between tongue microbes and heart health could lead to new ways of testing for heart conditions.

Currently, doctors test for heart conditions with tests such as echocardiograms, ECGs, stress tests, MRIs, chest X-rays, and coronary angiograms.

Symptoms of an impending heart attack include:

  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath
  • lightheadedness
  • pain radiating from the upper body to the jaw, neck, back, shoulders, and arms.

A heart attack is a medical emergency. If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, call 911.